Can You Compost Corn Husks And Cobs?

We may earn an affiliate commission for purchases using our links (at no additional cost to you). Learn More.

Do you love fresh corn, but wonder if you can compost the husks and cobs?

You’re not alone! Luckily, I can say that, yes, composting corn husks and cobs are perfectly fine.

By reading to the end, you’ll find out about composting corn cobs and husks, the pros and cons of doing so, and steps to composting them correctly.

Now you can recycle that pile of scraps from fresh corn and turn it into nutrient-rich compost for your garden!

Can You Compost Corn Husks

You can compost both fresh or dry corn husks.

Fresh, green husks will be a “green” or nitrogen-based compost ingredient.

green corn husk

Dried husks are “brown” and will go into your compost as a carbon ingredient.

brown corn husk

There are some benefits and disadvantages to composting corn husks, so read the pros and cons below to determine if doing so is worth it.

Pros:

  • Fresh corn husks provide a rich nitrogen ingredient that helps break down compost material faster
  • Fresh corn husks add moisture to compost, which is beneficial for microorganism to digest material
  • Dry corn husks provide a carbon ingredient which can balance excess nitrogen within the composter
  • Dry husks act as a sponge to wick up moisture from overly wet material
  • Improves the nutrient level of finished compost
  • Environmentally-friendly way to discard of food waste
  • The bulkiness of the stalks can create air pockets inside the compost, which helps keeps the material hot and boosts the health of good microbes

Cons:

  • Husks left over after a large gathering or party may overwhelm the space inside your composter
  • For faster breakdown you’ll need to cut up or shred the husks which can be time-consuming

Can You Compost Corn Cobs

Yes, you can compost corn cobs but they do take much longer to decompose when they are allowed to dry out before adding them to your bin or pile.

Here are the benefits and disadvantages of composting cobs:

Pros:

  • Provides a carbon ingredient that helps balance green ingredients
  • The chunkiness provides aeration for the compost, which maintains heat levels and keeps the compost processing properly
  • Dry cobs can act as a sponge to wick up moisture from overly wet material
  • Improves the texture of finished compost
  • Good for the environment by keeping kitchen waste out of landfills
  • Provides lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose to the compost which give microbes energy and aid in plant health

Cons:

  • It can take several seasons for whole corn cob pieces to break down fully in the compost
  • You will need to break down cobs into smaller pieces to fit better into your compost bin and to break down faster

Cobs are stubborn to break down fresh or dry, but not impossible. You can always choose to sift out partial cob remnants from your otherwise complete compost and toss them into a new batch. 

TIP: Bringing cob remains (or any chunks left after sifting compost) into a fresh batch carries along with it an excellent array of beneficial microbes that helps jumpstart the composting process.

How Long Does It Take For Them To Decompose?

Many people forgo composting corn cobs because they think the material is very tough to decompose, and they don’t want the hassle of waiting to see results.

Here is the reality of how long it takes for both corn husks and cobs to break down within your compost tumbler, bin, or pile. 

Corn Husks

Fresh corn husks will decompose a bit faster than dry due to the moisture that attracts hungry microbes that can more easily digest the material.

A well-tended hot compost pile should see fresh corn husks become unrecognizable in about three months. 

The trick to even faster decomposition is to cut up or shred the husks into as small of pieces as possible. Jam them into the center of your compost heap where all the heat and microbe action is and watch it reduce fresh corn husks down in as little as four to five weeks.

Expect dry husks to take between three months to a year to break down. Dry corn husks are a bit tougher and will need to pick up some moisture from other compost materials to begin decomposing. 

Dry husks crush more easily into smaller pieces before adding them to compost, which is a plus. Again, expect faster results with a hot composting system with a perfect ratio of green to brown ingredients that gets regular tending.

If time is of no concern, go ahead and toss full pieces of fresh or dry husks into a cold compost pile with some leaves and grass clippings. Over a year or two, the material should still break down into a nice batch of compost.

Corn Cobs

Corn cobs are amazingly long-lasting outside of a sound composting system. Some corn cobs found in landfills can be over a decade old and still be recognizable.

But you shouldn’t let this fact deter you from adding them to your home composting system. Inside a hot compost pile with plenty of turning to keep aeration, heat, and moisture levels ideal, you can see those cobs disappear in only a few months.

Increase the speed of decomposition by cutting fresh cobs into small bits before adding them in. Grinding them up is an even better option if you have it. 

Dried out cobs left whole will take more time, maybe six months to a year, to break down fully since they become very hard.

How To Compost Corn Husks And Cobs

The goal of any composting system is to reduce kitchen waste and create a rich garden amendment as fast as possible. To accomplish this task, you should follow these steps to compost corn husks and cobs quickly:

Step 1 – Chop Up Cobs And Husks

For best results, take the time to cut up or shred corn cob scraps into smaller bits before adding them to compost. You can opt to leave them whole, but getting them to mix well into current compost material will be difficult and slow down the decomposition process.

TIP: Do you have a large pile of corn husks and no time to shred them up? Try running your lawn mower over them several times for a quick chop!

Step 2 – Add-In The Correct Ratio Of Balancing Ingredients

Compost should remain as close to a 4:1 ratio of “brown” to “green” ingredients for optimal results. Too much green will make the compost too wet, which will cause horrible smells and drown out the microbes and fungi that feed on the material.

Too much brown will dry out the compost and stop organic breakdown entirely. A good moisture meter is a perfect way to keep tabs on whether or not your compost is in good balance.

Step 3 – Turn And Tend

Turning compost is just as critical for corn cob and husk breakdown as balancing ingredients. Turning brings fresh air into the compost pile, which increases heat and quickens decomposition.

For outdoor compost piles, invest in a high-quality, comfortable-to-hold garden fork to turn the material every 4 to 7 days until the compost is complete.

In Summary

When done correctly, you can not only add corn husks and cobs to your compost, but you can see them break down fast. 

By learning more about the best way to compost corn husks and cobs and then following the steps I outline in this guide, you can turn corncob waste into luxurious compost.

So enjoy fresh corn on the cob as much as you like and recycle those annoying piles of cobs and husks into compost that will feed your garden next season!